Monday, August 7, 2023

Book report: Factfulness (nazma mostofa)

"Factfulness," written by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Ronnlund, is an informative yet intriguing book that challenges overall human misinterpretation of the world through a more positive and factual view using statistics. The author highlights our perception of the world can be highly negative and that the world is better than we think. Humans are essentially programmed toward binary thinking; we have this innate sense of negativity and all-around appeal to dramatic notions. We are constantly exposed to negativity through media and single-perspective thinking. He explains that many individuals, including our world leaders, must be made aware of the positive changes in our world since the 1800s. Poverty is decreasing, more individuals are getting an education, and the mortality rate is also decreasing, leading to an overall increase in life expectancy. The author uses ten instincts to explain further that the world is changing, and life can be viewed in a more positive direction. Change must occur at the individual level before affecting the majority. In short, Factfulness allows the reader to focus on a more optimistic perspective on life yet increases awareness of outdated information, negativity from other sources, and the overall progress of the world.

Favorite part
It's hard to choose just one aspect of the book. But it was nice to read the references to Bangladesh. Bangladesh has grown significantly. As my father would say, it's not the "third-world country" it once was. My parents were born and raised there. As described in the book, they underwent level 1 and 2 income levels in the 70s and 80s, walking on foot to get clean water and consuming the same meals daily. My father was bright for his age then, so he became a teacher and taught the children in the village. He was able to monetize his intellect and overall skill and was soon able to bring my siblings and mother to America, starting a level 4 lifestyle. I have to disagree with the author on page 109 when he says Bangladesh is now a level 2 country. My father grew up in the village, and his very home, which he has built brick by brick, still stands. I remember, in 2016, walking past the many individuals sleeping on the footpaths or in their tin-roofed huts, but it was only a small group of individuals. Those who have always lived in the village have grown significantly, building homes where their tin houses used to be or giving rise to an entirely educated family. The village is different from what it used to be.

This book relates to this class and its foundation entirely. The author concisely explains to be skeptical and approach each claim with clear thought. He explains, similarly to our class lectures, to constantly question assumptions and that no one thing can be approached with 100 percent certainty. The author also describes how it is ok to fall outside the "norm," he tells his readers that to make progress, one must fall out of single-perspective thinking. Our class lectures constantly reiterate how science relies on slow and critical thinking. "Practice critical thinking for a better life…Slow down…Be skeptical…Science is never 100% certain of anything…Science is based on consensus…Science changes and makes progress…Always question assumptions….Get outside your echo chamber" (Mark Berg. Lecture 10). Statistics can be falsified, and everything can be dramatized; it's up to us as a society to seek the truth and unveil the facts behind the narrative. Humans have adapted to negativity and fear so much that we unconsciously crave it and cannot find the positive or the absolute truth behind the story. "Nobody can predict the future with 100% certainty." (Rosling. 172). This book doesn't just highlight human error; it shows us the foundation for bettering the world. "Factfulness is recognizing that a single perspective can limit your imagination and remembering that it is better to look at problems from many angles to get a more accurate understanding and find practical solutions." (Rosling. 202).

Creative/ Overall thoughts:
This book was terrific. It makes you appreciate that you are much more fortunate than others who fight for their daily lives. Wealth is so much more than just money. Wealth is shoes, clothes, transportation, and food. It reminds me of how hard my parents have had to work for my family. Knowing how humans are essentially programmed toward binary thinking is also interesting. We either look at left or right and at right or wrong. This makes sense and is likely related to our flight or fight responses; our brains are built to work this way to communicate and fight when necessary. This has allowed us to apply it to our daily lives and society, whether good or bad. It is also interesting to see how the author explains how society censors history. We live in a world where history is constantly repeated in front of our very own eyes, yet we're utterly blind to it. For example, certain countries have allowed genocide to continue, but the world fails to fight and ignores it.

After reading this book, my perspective has changed, and I see how the world is changing significantly, but there's still much more to be done. I have attached a link to a TED talk featuring Steve Pink, "Is the world getting better." This video, I feel, helps capture the message of this book for those who have not read it

This book speaks the truth about the world changing, and we are so much better off now. Poverty has decreased significantly, with only a small percentage of the world living in a level 1 or 2 scenario. But what's amusing is it's not our world that is changing, but the people that are not. Each chapter discusses an issue needed to be resolved by the human race. It could be generalizability, where we address each issue the same way. In other words, "This is how it is, and this is how it always will be." It could even be negativity because humans harp on the bad rather than the good. Our world may be changing for the better, but we, as a human race, cannot move forward with our mindset. This book should be applied to all aspects of daily living, especially for our world leaders and journalists who report on everything but the good. Using each chapter, whether it's the gap instinct or the single perspective instinct (looking at the majority or the entire picture instead of one aspect), or even the negativity and blame instinct, can alter a person's perspective on life. Humans seem to have this innate sense of negativity and appeal to dramatic notions. We must be open to all possibilities; we cannot just stick to a single perspective. In a way, we all must become scientists.

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